Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Christmas at the Covered Market

It's a macarbe olde world in Oxford's covered market. Built in 1771, after the academics, aristocrats and religious leaders complained so much about the revolting conditions of the market stalls on Oxford's streets, the covered market houses all the food produce stalls and shops Oxford has to offer. The salty tang of seaweed and fishing vessels mingle with the secnt of roses and lavender, the aroma of freshly baked pies, pasties, the sharp smell of marinating olives and the stench of Oxford Blue cheese. The mustiness of the second hand bookshops, the snippity snip of the barber's shop, the gleaming jewellry stalls, the tea shops, the market houses something for everyone. Buskers move amongst the tight allyways, drawn to the crowds. Over the hum created by the busy shoppers you can hear the sounds of an italian soprano or the harmonies of a barber shop quartet.

Christmas time is especially magical. Trees adorn the ceilings, ready for stall assistants to hook down with a long pole, truss up with twine, and deposit on your shoulder for the journey home. The Butchers stalls groan under the vast weight of their displays - plump pink turkeys plucked clean save for a ruffle of feathers around their neck, hang infront of every shop; venison, rabbits, pheasant, plump porkers and the occasional Highland deer clad in a coat of coarse gray-brown hair swing from huge hooks. It's how meat is meant to be seen - organic and real. Holly adorns every surface and lights twinkle from the ceiling. The shopper is transported back to Victorian England. Friendly, congested, facinating, vulgar, anchient yet cosmopolition, stimulating all of ones senses the covered market is one of Oxford's real jewels.

More pictures of the covered market can be found in my flickr gallery.

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